The old Largo Open Air Market may have closed two weeks ago, but an alternative has conveniently cropped up right across the street.
The Plaza at the Palms, located directly across Alternate Keene Road from the Largo Community Center, has been hosting a new market, called the Plaza Fresh Market, for the past month.
A recent visit to the Plaza revealed that reactions to the new event are mainly positive, even on the heels of the news that the old market could be reborn at Ulmer Park soon.
But whether the market continues at the Plaza, reopens at the park or occupies both locations, the people Patch spoke with were in agreement that the area needs a fresh market, and it needs full cooperation and participation from everyone involved in order to be successful.
“Largo is a central location in this county,” vendor Pam Snyder of Seasonal Sensations said. “We need a market here that is going to benefit all of Largo, and we need the city and the community to support it.”
Snyder, who has been participating in the Largo Open Air Market for more than seven years dating back to when it was previously located at Ulmer Park, said she is impressed what the Plaza has done with the event.
“This is a very nice area to have a market, plenty of room, a great setting, a mixture of sunshine and shade,” she said. “Everything they do here is top notch, including the advertising.”
“I just wish there were more people here.”
That lament was a familiar refrain when the market was across the street, as lack of vendor participation and low attendance was cited as the main reasons why the city decided to shut it down after just one year at the Community Center.
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The decision to shutter the market is what prompted Tanya Pistillo of Wandering Star Gallery to try to bring the event back to Ulmer Park.
She said she recently received city approval to return the market to its old home, and she was at the Plaza on Sunday gauging vendors reactions to her plan.
"I want to have all the merchants get together and decide what we want to do so it is a joint effort," she said. "The city is excited to see this happen, and the response has been very good."
Pistillo is also planning to start a sidewalk street festival in the next few weeks to run in the interim until the market at Ulmer Park reopens in the fall.
But Plaza Fresh Market director Deserie Valloreo said they hope to be able to expand and grow their market at the facility.
“This is only the fourth week we’ve had the market, and one week the weather was terrible and last weekend was Easter,” she said. “So we’re still in the process of building it.”
She said they plan to have the market at the Plaza through July, and then reopen again in the fall.
Valloreo added the facility was designed to be a hub for community activities, and they are planning to host a number of events there, including a veterans showcase, a golf equipment swap meet and a bridal expo.
“This is a great venue for community events. We’re trying to get activity here at the Plaza so people can experience it and see what we have to offer.”
Karen Guay and Diane Gunlogson, owners of Signs of Pride recycled fence art, concurred with Valloreo regarding the facility.
“This is a wonderful location, inside and out,” Gunlogson said. “You can’t beat it.”
"I talked to Tanya and I think it's fine what she's trying to do," she added. "We just want to stay in the area. We need this to remain local."
When asked if they would attend two markets if the Open Air Market returns to Ulmer Park, Guay was quick to reply.
“Yup,” she said emphatically.
- Largo Open Air Market Is Closing
- Largo Open Air Market Could Return To Ulmer Park
- How Would You Improve Largo's Open Air Market?
What do you think, Largo? Would you like to see the Open Air Market return to Ulmer Park? Can the city host two such events? Let us know in the comments below.